Feeds

US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code

Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

US mobile companies have finally agreed to install free anti-theft software on their products, but not until the middle of next year and they plan to leave it turned it off by default.

The CTIA, which dubs itself "the Wireless Association," announced that its members – including Apple, Samsung, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile US, among others – will preload free software that will provide a kill-switch if the smartphone is stolen and enable remote wiping of handsets, and the ability to restore data from backups in the unlikely event of the purloined product being recovered.

"We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen," said Steve Largent, president of the CTIA. "By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones."

That said, they aren't exactly pulling out all the stops to do so. The new code will only be available on new handsets sold after July 2015 and it won’t be switched on by default, meaning less technical users might not know how to activate it.

The CTIA's members have been under increasing pressure to act on smartphone theft, which now accounts for over half of all theft cases in New York and San Francisco. State law officials in both regions formed the Save Our Smartphones initiative to try and encourage mobile manufacturers to do more to make stolen phones less valuable, but said this was being resisted because companies will lose out on selling lucrative insurance and replacement handsets.

“While CTIA’s decision to respond to our call for action by announcing a new voluntary commitment to make theft-deterrent features available on smartphones is a welcome step forward, it falls short of what is needed to effectively end the epidemic of smartphone theft," said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

"We strongly urge CTIA and its members to make their anti-theft features enabled by default on all devices, rather than relying on consumers to opt-in. The industry also has a responsibility to protect its consumers now and not wait until next year. Every week that passes means more people are victimized in street crimes that often turn violent, and more families will have to endure the needless loss of a loved one." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
A moment of brilliance? UPnP for Internet of Stuff lightbulbs
Thus doth tech of future illuminate present, etc
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.